Jumanji crossed with Natural Born Killers springs to mind when asked to describe the Quebec made film, Game of Death. Maybe a little Hunger Games thrown in for good measure. The other way I would describe it would be a hell of a lot of blood and fun…if you are into that kind of thing.
Seven millennials spending time at a remote property where they are drinking, drugging, swimming, and engaging in some sex. That is the jumping off point of directors Sebastien Landry and Laurence Morais-Legace’s film which debuted at SXSW.
Seven young friends are spending some time at a nice property with a pool. As you might expect of young people with this type of freedom and no supervision they are engaging in sex, drugs and drinking. The light and drunken fun comes to a crashing halt when they begin playing a game.
The first sign that this was not your typical game should have been the name of it. Game of Death. What starts out as fun soon denigrates into murder and mayhem. Plus the odd exploding head. The basic premise of the game is that the seven have to kill 24 people one at a time before the timer runs down or one of them will be the victim. And once you start playing the game (which is indestructible, trust me they try!) you cannot stop.
Once one of them has died and the shock has worn off a little, the remaining six have to decide whether their lives are more important than others. Will they take on the task of killing 24 people or not? Kill or be killed is the question.
The concept is excellent if not too original. They took it and ran with it making a splatter gore film that is filled with equal amounts of sick moments and laughs (sometimes happening at the same time). The film is an extension of a web series the directors had previously put together.
Despite all the gore and silliness going on there is a serious question behind it all – Is it alright to kill if the only alternative you have is dying yourself? Is suicide your only moral option? Hmmm….
The strongest acting in the young cast comes from Erniel Baez Duenas. In the beginning you hate the obnoxious/conspiracy theory spouting pizza delivery guy/drug dealer. Then over the course of the film he wins you over with the fact that his is the most humane of the seven characters. His character actually demonstrates a range of emotions rather that staying static.
Another funny and cool touch (in a film filled with little cool things) is the manatee documentary running in the background. Everyone in the film seems to be watching the same channel. The potatoes of the sea (that is what they are called) float happily in the background of many a bloody scene. The directors said the reason was twofold – that they had to provide some sugar with the darkness of the film and that they had every television tuned to it to give a feeling of the story happening in a small town where station choice is limited.
Nice to see a local production that probably had a fairly low budget, but manages not to look cheap. There is quite a stylish feel to Game of Death. The video game renditions of many of the killings that go on is not only a nice touch with many video game styles being used, but also a nice homage to game like House of the Dead.